Friday, January 8, 2010

New airport Ďadvisorsí organize for work


By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer

The new five-person Blaine County Airport Advisory Committee met formally for the first time Monday, Jan. 4., for an hour-long briefing with the Blaine County Commission, then in a longer session by itself to discuss by-laws.

Opening the joint meeting, Blaine Commission Chair Larry Schoen said, "Now the real work begins."

But for now, it's unclear what constitutes "the real work." Arguably created to silence critics that parts of Blaine County weren't represented in planning to replace Friedman Memorial Airport, the BCAAC seems destined for now to be a protégé and onlooker to the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and a link between the FMAA and its creator, the Blaine County Commission.

The committee will have no policymaking power and no budget for now.

Committee member Chris Stephens, a jet pilot representing the Wood River Valley aviation community, says one mission might be to "bring in the naysayers" who've opposed closing Friedman.

Airport Manager Rick Baird sounded what clearly was a note of caution. He told the BCAAC and county commissioners he hopes "we won't lose sight of one important fact—that numerous studies, numerous efforts, numerous people over the past 16 years got us to this point" in developing a new airport that can be shared with BCAAC. Longtime observers in the replacement airport drama might interpret Baird's comment as a pre-emptive warning about using a new committee to cover old ground.

In another curious announcement, Schoen said the yet-to-be-hired project manager overseeing construction of a new airport would be located in the Old County Courthouse offices, not at the Friedman offices.

Schoen recently replaced 17-year FMAA member Len Harlig, who resigned and is now organizing the BCAAC. The BCAAC will hold its next public meeting at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, in the third-floor meeting room of the Old County Courthouse in Hailey.




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